It’s felt like a busy few weeks. We had two weekends in a row of visitors – first, my stepmother and brothers and then, some old friends from university. Aside from the fact that it was lovely to spend time with family and friends, I also enjoyed showing off my new city. Acting as a tour guide for our visitors helped to divorce me from the day-to-day realities of being an expat in a foreign country and instead see Amsterdam as a tourist would. It’s hard not to fall in love with the place as you wander along sunlit canals and down narrow alleyways, lined with shops and cafés. Amsterdam certainly has some unique and oddly specific shops – so far we’ve come across a shop that just sells coffee and one kind of cookie (probably the most expensive cookie I’ve ever eaten at €1.95 a pop), a canvas shop that sells nothing but canvas fabric, and – I kid you not – a toothbrush shop. You have to love a city that can support that kind of economy. Continue readingSpring is here and so am I
As it’s World Book Day and I love books, I thought I’d have a look through my messy bookshelves and pick out some of my favourite books – the ones I’ve carted with me around the UK and across the North Sea, the ones that I love just looking at because they’re beautiful works of art, and the ones I’ve read to death. Continue readingA few of my favourite books
As part of my MA in Writing, Nature and Place, I had to do a publishing module. My fellow course mates and I edited, designed, typeset and distributed a literary magazine called Peninsula (you can read the magazine online). I absolutely loved the experience – contacting possible contributors, editing the submissions, the frenzied editorial meetings, and holding the final product in my hands. Continue readingOn starting a new literary magazine
I’ve been helping out at an environmental organisation in Tilburg for two days a week, which means getting up very early in order to catch the train. The journey takes about an hour and a half, which gives you a sense of how small this country is, since Tilburg is right down in the south, close to the Belgium border. I’d say Amsterdam is in the north, but I suppose it is really in the middle – I’ve become a midlander again. One of the people I work with is from the north. I mentioned to her that my boyfriend and I are planning to do a summer cycle tour round the Netherlands. She told me that the north is quite boring and flat and that she prefers the south. Flat, I thought, how can it possibly get any flatter than this! Continue readingThe magic of the morning
I’m excited to have an essay published by The Real Story – an excellent initiative that celebrates all things creative nonfiction. The essay is about the attempts of my partner and I to see the Perseids meteor shower from the city. Not an easy task with all that light pollution! But the story does have …
I frequently find myself saying ‘here’ when I really mean ‘there’. As in, ‘That’s not unusual here’ or ‘We like to eat Marmite over here’. And I realised that this is the first time in my life that my ‘here’ is not the UK. I’ve visited other countries, but I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Britain and it’s taking some getting used to. Continue readingBeing ‘here’ instead of ‘there’
I recently read a blog post called ‘Ruminations on Nature Writing‘ that got me thinking. The blog’s author is at a reading by Sherry Simpson, who is being introduced by a man called David Stevenson. In his introduction Stevenson comments that although Simpson is often described as a nature writer, what she is really writing about is people. To which the blog’s author reacts:
Whoa, I thought. Did David just dismiss nature writing, or what? It’s as if writing about PEOPLE gave Sherry’s work more gravitas, made it more substantial and relevant and worthy.
It got me thinking about the balance that nature writers have to strike between the human (the narrator included) and the non-human. It also got me wondering whether I too am guilty of prioritising the human over nature. Continue readingBalancing the human and non-human in nature writing
I’m excited to be kicking off the writing year with a guest post on the excellent City Creatures blog. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in urban nature and human connection to place. Here’s a short extract from my blog post: Continue readingOn the Benefits of Urban Monomania
- 60 tufted ducks (or thereabouts).
- The cathedral of a motorway bridge.
- A view from a bridge. Continue reading10 things I found on my afternoon walk
I’ve now been living in Amsterdam for two weeks. The first three days here we were stuck in the flat waiting for our boxes to be delivered. So for the first few days we only saw our surroundings by night. Then we had one day of getting out of the house before I managed to get ill. Continue readingComing and going: Nottingham to Amsterdam